Motivated A's set sights on AL's best record

Lowrie on Moss' home run: 'He clobbered that ball'

Motivated A's set sights on AL's best record
September 23, 2013, 11:45 pm
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The A's have already matched last year's win total (94) and are just one game behind Boston for best record in the AL. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

ANAHEIM – Just when the Oakland A’s seem ripe for a possible letdown game, they manage to crank the intensity up a notch.

One day removed from winning the American League West, not to mention the champagne-fueled celebration that came with it, the A’s went back to work Monday with another relentless offensive display in a 10-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

They notched their 94th win to match last year’s total, and they’re now starting to open up new possibilities for themselves in the American league playoff picture.

With Detroit losing, their magic number dropped to two to clinch home-field advantage in the American League Divisional Series. But at 94-63, they’re just one game behind Boston for the top record in the league.

Securing the No. 1 playoff seed would mean the A's play the wild card winner in their ALDS, theoretically an easier matchup than the Tigers would be.

It adds another layer of motivation, and the A’s are a dangerous team when they’ve got a goal to strive for.

“I think a lot of us realize how important it is to gain home-field advantage,” A’s catcher Derek Norris said. “ It’s even more motivating to gain that top spot and hopefully play the wild-card team. (But) we don’t wanna get too far ahead of ourselves thinking about the numbers game, because we’ve never been that kind of a team.”

But you can’t talk about the A’s right now without talking about the numbers. They’re averaging 9.8 runs over their current five-game winning streak. They tied an Oakland record Monday by homering at least twice for the sixth consecutive game.

They are hitting .285 as a team with 70 home runs over their past 44 games. Seven different players drove in a run in Monday’s 13-hit attack. A’s hitting coach Chili Davis has plenty of thoughts to share, plenty of advice to dish when the bats go cold.

What’s his agenda when things are rolling like they are right now?

“Just kick back and watch,” Davis said.

A’s manager Bob Melvin is trying to strike a delicate balance during this final six-game road trip before the postseason. The goal is to try to win as much as possible while also giving some of his regulars a much-needed rest when possible.

“You might see a little different personnel day-to-day,” he said before Monday’s game. “But I think the flexibility of our roster suggests we’re gonna run out a lineup that we feel is capable of winning.”

Case in point, Seth Smith had started just four of 21 games in September but found himself starting in left field Monday. In Smith’s first at-bat, he lined a double to left-center that scored Josh Reddick to get the A’s on the board in the first.

Chris Young, another outfielder who hasn’t played nearly as much this season as he’d hoped, pinch-hit for Smith in the fifth. His at-bat ended when Reddick was thrown out trying to steal second with two outs. But Young came back to lead off the sixth with a double and eventually came around to score.

The A’s have several players not getting nearly as much playing time as they like. But when they do get their shot, they produce. That keeps them feeling like a part of the winning formula, which breeds positive clubhouse chemistry.

Speaking of Smith’s situation, Melvin said: “I don’t know how you can handle it better than he has. He’s complained zero about (the lack of playing time) and he just wants to win. When you have guys like that, it’s just pretty infectious.”

Right now it’s breeding some impressive results.

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